A political activist, a former Key West city commissioner and a contractor-turned-real-estate broker will run for mayor of the island city, bringing the number of candidates up to 11.
Randy Becker, an 11-year resident of Key West and native of Utica, N.Y., announced he will run for a second time. He lost to Mayor Craig Cates in 2016. Cates, first elected in 2009, is term-limited, leaving the race wide-open.
The primary election for the nonpartisan seat is Aug. 28. If no one receives 50 percent plus one vote, the top two vote-getters would go to a runoff on Nov. 6.
“In my time in Key West, over and over again, I have seen leadership scrambling to get on top of situations that have been neglected or ignored until they have become emergencies,” Becker said in a statement. “It is time for us to move past being reactive and start being proactive and creative.”
Becker, 71, was an original appointee to the Bahama Village Redevelopment Advisory Committee and the Truman Waterfront Advisory Board. He is a board member of the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, which serves the homeless, and has been president of the Interfaith Ministerial Alliance. For five years he served on the truancy team at Key West High School as a community representative.
Teri Johnston, a former District 5 city commissioner who runs a contracting business, filed paperwork to run for mayor. She was first elected commissioner in 2007 and held the office through 2015.
Johnston, 66, an Iowa native, is a co-founder of the Keys group Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe. While in office she helped push a policy to allow property owners to raise their buildings up to four feet above Federal Emergency Management Agency flood levels to lessen their insurance premiums and advocated to increase the city’s recycling rate.
In 2013, she opposed asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study whether it’s feasible to dredge and widen Key West Harbor as a way to welcome larger cruise ships. She is on the board of directors of the Southernmost Homeless Assistance League, which manages the city’s overnight homeless shelter.
Darrin Smith, 47, has lived in Key West for six years and lived here before in the 1990s. A boat captain, private pilot and contractor, Smith also owns Key West Luxury Real Estate. He says the city is in great shape except for its affordable and workforce housing crisis.
“A studio apartment for $1,700 on Stock Island is insane,” Smith said.
Smith said he can better relate to the average resident compared to the current leadership in the city.
“I’m not a Conch, I didn’t grow up here, I’m not rich,” Smith said. “I live in Key West on a daily market basis. The people in power are so stable, they’re so entrenched in Key West, they can do nothing and not have a problem. I know people who are struggling even though they have a career.”
Smith, a Connecticut native who graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in aviation and management, added, “A lot of my ideas are from just speaking to people in Key West, a cashier, a bartender. People have great ideas and answers.”
Also running for mayor are:
▪ Rick Brown, who has lived in Key West for over a year, is the administrator of Key West Health and Rehabilitation. He said he wants to be mayor because after Hurricane Irma, he watched the community pull itself together. He says the Keys senior population needs more services.
▪ Bill Foley, born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Maryland, is a ferry boat supervisor. He says housing and traffic issues need to be addressed by government. Foley has lived in Key West for about four years.
▪ Robert “Bob” Goodreau couldn’t be reached for comment Friday on his candidacy.
▪ Danny Hughes, who with his wife owns Two Friends Patio restaurant, is a member of the Key West Bight Management District board. He has a background in construction.
▪ Mitchell Jones, a Delta Airlines employee and popular drag queen who is focused on affordable and workforce housing and has lived in Key West for 11 years. He is from North Carolina.
▪ Kate Miano, the owner of the Gardens Hotel who is active in fundraising for nonprofits and was recently named the local American Red Cross’ humanitarian of the year. She is from St. Louis.
▪ Margaret Romero, the District 5 city commissioner in her first term and a Key West native. Romero considers herself a government watchdog, particularly on spending. She is a retired IBM executive consultant. She hasn’t yet filed the paperwork for mayor.
▪ Mark Songer, an accountant and activist with the environmental protection group Last Stand who regularly attends and speaks at city meetings. An Ohio native and 14-year resident of Key West, he says the city needs to address solutions for sea-level rise and climate change.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen